AGR woes: No decision yet on relief to telecom firms at DCC meet

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Representational image.   | Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

‘Providing staggered payment option will depend on amount of dues cleared’

The Digital Communications Commission, the highest decision-making body at the Department of Telecom, on Friday, failed to reach any decision on relief for the telecom sector that is reeling under pressure to pay their adjusted gross revenue related dues.

Following the meeting, which lasted for about two hours, a source confirmed that the telecom department needed more details required for reconciliation of AGR data. “The DCC will meet again soon,” the source said.

Another telecom ministry official, however, stressed that the focus of the meeting was on implementation of PPP model for the Bharat Net project.

The DCC, whose members include the Secretaries of the Ministries of Finance, Commerce, and Electronics and IT, besides top telecom ministry officials and the CEO of NITI Aayog, was scheduled to meet on Friday to discuss relief measures for the telecom companies.

One of the options being mulled by the government is allowing staggered payments for statutory dues. However, according to sources, the relief for companies will depend on the amount of dues cleared by them, especially for Vodafone Idea, which has paid only ₹3,500 crore of the estimated dues of ₹53,000 crore.

The DCC’s failure to arrive at a decision will hit Vodafone Idea the most, which had written to the Telecom Secretary earlier this week expressing its inability to make these payments without government support.

“At this point, we do not have the financial strength to pay the balance, self-assessed principal, interest, penalty and interest of penalty,” the company had said, while seeking that the floor price for data be increased to ₹35/GB while that for voice call be fixed at 6p/min.

Industry body COAI had also sent an SOS to the government seeking measures on a ‘priority basis’ to facilitate reduction of financial stress in the industry, including extension of loans at lower rates to cover AGR liabilities and immediate implementation of floor prices for telecom tariff.

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Printable version | Apr 4, 2020 8:28:38 AM |

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